Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Last Squash Report! Son Kabak Raporu!

I promise, from now until planting season I will write nothing more about winte squash! Well, maybe not.

Here are some of the squash from the garden. The Rouge Vif d'Etampes produced nicely but with the exception of one, they didn't display the flat shape that is supposedly characteristic for the variety. They also were not nearly as tasteless as I've read, and one made a pretty decent soup.

Yemin ediyorum, ekin zamanı gelinceye kadar balkabaklar hakkında bir daha yazmayacağım! Belkı... Buyrun bu yılın balkabaklarından birkaç tanesi. Rouge Vif d'Etampes, çok güzel üretti fakat bir tanesi hariç o cinse özgü basık yayvan özelliğini göstermedi. Okuduğum kadar tatsız da çıkmadı, bir tanesinden çok lezzetli bir çorba yaptım.

The Futsus impressed me; despite the fact that I got them into the ground way too late they produced a lot of squash. I've already eaten several, but I decided to wait for a while before eating any more to see if they sweeten up. I cooked them stuffed with apples, with a little nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and a little orange juice. They do have a slightly different flavor but I would have never thought "hazelnut."

Küçük gri Futsu'lar beni çok sevindirdi, çok fazla geç ekmeme rağmen yine çok ürettiler. Bir kaç tanesi yedim de zamanla tatlanacak mı diye bekleyeceğim. Fırında elma, biraz tarçın, muscat cevizi, tereyağla doldurup, biraz da portakal suyu ekleyrek pişirdim. Harika! Biraz farklı bir tadı var fakat her yerde okuduğum "fındık" tadını ben duyamadım. Reklam abartısı her halde.

The biggest disappointment was the Marina di Chioggia - I only got two! The reason is no mystery - a pack of dogs that came into the garden and decided to dig right where they were growing, snapping off two of the best runners. The quality is really nice though and I'll plant it again next year.

En büyük hayal kırıklığını, Marina di Chioggia ile yaşadım - sadece iki tane verdi! Sebebi ise mechul değil, bir köpek sürüsü bahçeme girip tam yetiştiği yerde kazarak en büyük iki sürgününü koparttı. Kaletesi son derece güzel ama, gelecek yıl da kesinlikle ekeceğim.

My housemate was down in his home town of Aydın, and brought a pack of seed that is supposedlyl of the preferred variety there. Turns out the company is in Istanbul but generally the squash sold here come from Adapazarı, and are dark gray, resembling the Australian Jarrahdale pumpkin but less glossy and more irregular in shape. It makes a great pie. But there are other varieties as well grown in the south, especially a large, smooth pale gray-green one with very shallow grooves and pale orange blotches; I'd love to score some seed of that one.

Aydın'lı ev arkadaşım da bir paket balkabağı tohumu getirdi. Satanlara göre o yörede en çok yetiştirilen cinsmiş. Tohum şirketi İstanbul'da ama... İstanbul'da benzer birşey gördüm de, burada en çok satılan cins "Adapazarı" veya "Kestane" denilen, büyük derin boğumlu gri cinstir. Aydın'da yetişen başka bir cins de var, büyük, oval şekli sığ çizgili, uçuk turuncu benekli açık yeşilimsi gri renkli bir tane. Ondan birkaç tohum elde etmek isterdim!

And the last pumpkin-related bit: I was in Greece for several weeks and when I came back through Komotini in northestern Greece, I found some very attractive winter squash in the markets that looked like a more bottle-shaped butternut. (CD added for scale.) I was too curious about the variety so I bought one and it looked pretty nice when I opened it, but I was underwhelmed; it cooked up very fibrous and pulpy, with not much flavor. I won't be growing it next year!

Veeee kabaklarla ilgili son paragraf olarak... Yunanistan'da birkaç hafta geçirdim, dönüşte Batı Trakya, Gümülcine kentinde görünüşü çok güzel olan bir balkabağı buldum. Bizim çok popüler olan "butternut" cinsinin daha kabarığı, şişe şeklinde birşey. (CD, boyunu göstermek için eklendi.) Cinsi çok merak ettiğim için bir tanesini aladım, açtığımda güzel göründü fakat tadı beni hiç etkilemedi; eti tatsız, lifli ve çok sulu çıktı. Gelecek yıl yetiştireceğim bir cins değil!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Squash Update / Kabak Güncellemesi

Yeah, I know what you're thinking...This guy is really obsessing on the winter squash!

Yep, I am! There aren't many other vegetables in the garden (okay, it's technically a fruit) where you plant a seed, watch it sprout and get established, then get to watch it bloom and begin growing with amazing speed, but have to watch through the entire summer to bring those fruits to maturity. Maybe corn would compare but it's still much more gradual and subtle. Tomatoes, okra, even melons, are harvested as they become ripe, with more constantly on the way; but with winter squash, your fruits set, and it's those same fruits you nurture over the months until it's finally time to harvest them. (Potatoes are another matter - you plant them, know they're growing down there, but you really don't know how many you'll get or how well they did until the moment of truth arrives. My potato harvest? Um...let's talk about squash!)

Above is a large and still-developing Rouge Vif D'Etampes fruit; it probably weighs about twelve pounds now and it hasn't even started to flatten out or turn color. Rouge Vif D'Etampes is interesting that way; whereas some squash make their eventual shape obvious even before the blooms are fertilized, this one starts out as a little yellow golf ball that doesn't show its eventual flat shape until fairly late in the game. Below is another one that is coloring up nicely. It is a bit smaller since it started forming earlier but I let several fruits form on its vine. I gave seeds to friends in Iznik as well, and there seems to be quite a bit of variation in shape; some of the fruits are deeply ribbed while others are smoother. This one is on the same plant as the one above; it grew round until just a few weeks ago when it began to flatten noticeably.

Below is another one on a different plant; all of this plant's squashes have a distinct green mottling that may fade as they mature.

Here's the same one just a couple weeks earlier. Though it had not begun to color up at all yet, it already had the green mottling.

The only "bad news" about Rouge Vif d'Etampes is the flavor reviews I've seen. The description was "delicious sweet flesh, perfect for pies and custards." Others, notably Amy Goldman, author of "The Compleat Squash," (more about her later) beg to differ. In her own words:

"This one coasts by on looks alone, being insipid and watery. It's enchanting, but I wouldn't cook with it."

Well, dang. We'll see. It was quite good when it was still yellow.

So what about Marina di Chioggia? Goldman gives it rave reviews, and even if its flavor were mediocre, I'd still be glad I planted it because it's an amazing looking thing. Unfortunately because of its situation, and the fact that a pack of dogs came into the garden are badly damaged the vines, I'll only get two of these for all my efforts. The larger of the two is just starting to develop the characteristic warts:

As a diversion from the squash, here's a picture of that nice Amaranth, "Hopi Red Dye," coming up among the leaves. There is a Rouge Vif d'Etampes lurking under the leaves though!

And then there's Futsu. I had something unusual happen with this one. Usually winter squash start blooming male, and after a succession of male flowers it finally opens the female flowers. My Futsus did exactlyl the opposite. As the fines took off, lots of male flowers developed at the nodes but they progressed very, very slowly. Meanwhile there were female flowers coming on quickly. I got two female flowers before I had any males. Since Futsu is a C. moschata, it technically can't cross with C. maxima (though it has been done artificially). But I thought "what the heck" and tried it anyway. The seeds may come out sterile but the fruits did set! Here's one of them - the picture's a little old and they're now much larger and a very dark green.

The Futsu plant is probably one of the most ornamental squash plant I've ever grown. I find the leaves beautiful with their generous white marbling, and the flowers are enormous! The mid-90s weather we have been having has seemed to put a bit of a damper on their fruit set but it's cooled a little now and some more females have started to grow instead of yellow and drop.

I've also finally found the place where gourds like to grow. Before I arrived my housemate had grown gourds in the upper garden but I've tried for 2 years in a row and despite manure and generous watering, I just can't get them to take off. I made a small arbor in the lower garden and planted a tiny ornamental bottle gourd with fruits only about 6" long at maturity. They really took off and are well on their way to to the top of the large plum tree next to them. They should be fun to decorate as Christmas or other ornaments. There are at least 14 out there and many more on the way.

If you are even remotely interested in squash, I can't say enough good things about the book "The Compleat Squash: A Passionate Grower's Guide to Pumpkins, Squashes and Gourds," by Amy Goldman. I knew there were lots of different kinds of squash but the illustrations in this book will have you drooling. She goes through the three major squash species and gives descriptions of both common and rare varieties' uses, table quality and origins. It's interesting how many heirloom varieties are stringy and unappetising; perhaps they grew them because they didn't have another variety available and were used to them. Other types, especially some of the large pumpkins, were grown as cattle feed. I'm already planning which new (to me) varieties I'll grow next year, and I'll definitely have to clear at least another 50 square yards of planting area!

And since you made it this far (well, I'm assuming), here is a compleat-ly squash-unlrelated picture: A bloom on my neighbor's giant white Datura just on the point of popping open. This is a plant with a strategy! The scent starts emerging from the flower long before they unfurl even to this point, and like hungry campers in the food line, they swarm around the flowers trying to find the entrance. Then the flower suddenly pops open, and it's dinner time!

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Botanic Garden in Istanbul! İstanbul'da bir Botanik Bahçesi!

I remember once when I was about 5, looking everywhere for my superball. It was my favorite toy. I'd just seen it a little earlier, and I was looking everywhere...under the couch, behind all the chairs, in my room, in the hall. I asked my mom if she'd seen it. "Yes, I did see it!" she said. "Where?" "Oh, I think you'll find it soon enough," she said. A couple of minutes later, I started pestering her again to tell me where it was. "It's very close to you!" she said. When I couldn't stand it any longer and was about to get whiny, she said "take a look in your hand."
It was there. And no, I was not a head-start drug user!

Beş yaşı civarındayken en sevdiğim oyuncağım olan "super top"umu arıyordum. Koltukların arakasında, yatak odamda, koridorda, her yerde arıyordum ama nafile... Anneme gördün mü diye sorduğumda, gülümseyerek "evet, senin de çok yakında bulacağını zannediyorum" dedi. Aramaya devam ettim, yine bulamayınca anneme mızmız etmeye başlayınca sırıtarak "eline baksana" dedi. Oradaymış. Ve o küçük yaşta narkotik kullanmaya başladığımı zannetmeyin...! Sonuçta bazen çok aradığımız şeyler burnumuzun altındayken nedense farkına varmıyoruz. Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanik Bahçesi ise tam öyle bir vaka...İstanbul'da yaşadığım dokuz yıl boyunca otobüste bilmem kaç kez oradan geçmişim, ama varlığının bile farkına varmadım! Onların ayrıntılı web sitesinde burada yazdığım bütün bilgileri bulabildiğinize göre (hem de tembel olduğum için) bütün yazımı Türkçeye çevirmeyeceğim. Fakat hiç gitmediyseniz, hiç zaman kaybetmeden bu bahçeyi ziyaret etmenizi kesinlikle tavsiye ediyorum!

The point is, sometimes something you wish you had can be right under your nose and for some reason you just find out very late. Such was the case when, almost two months ago now, I learned that Istanbul had a botanic garden! I did know about one at Istanbul University but it is famously unkept and neglected; this one is a real jewel in a very unexpected place. As a matter of fact, I've gone right by it on the bus to Kozyatağı, and never even noticed it! And since it took me so long to find out about it, I think it's only appropriate that my post about it is late as well.

I actually was not out looking for botanic gardens; a gardening friend of mine invited me to a lunch by a group called İmece Evi. İmece is Turkish for a traditional village work party. In the old days, and sometimes still today, certain jobs like boiling, drying and pounding bulgur, making dry lavash for winter, food for weddings, etc. are easier to do as a group effort and all the women or men of the village will pitch in. The İmece Evi group has a communal village in the Kazdağı area, where they grow organic produce, learn to live naturally and sell the products of their (joint) labor. They are also planning to begin restoring and farming in an old abandoned village in the mountains near Izmir. The lunch was at the Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanic Garden in the unlikely area of Ataşehir, Istanbul. I say "unlikely" because...well, look at this! If anyone doubts the resourcefulness of the Turks, this should be enough to set them straight:

The garden is literally surrounded and bi-/tri-/quadrisected by freeway. And I have to admit that when I first heard there was a botanic garden there, I was not expecting anything very impressive; the entrance to the garden off the freeway did little to make me any more optimistic.

Sometimes it's really nice to be wrong though. In Istanbul, where there seem to be about 20 plants available in most nurseries, there were truly interesting things growing along the path up into the garden, Verbascums, rare Centaureas, Salvias and more. With over 75 species, Turkey is the center of distribution of the genus Verbascum, or mulleins. But even though there are some dandies here, they are ubiquitously seen as weeds, and even among those interested in flower gardening, it would be a rare gardener who would actually plant one! So I was thrilled to see this specimen, a Vebascum I saw in the wild near Selçuk, site of the ancient city of Ephesus. It's a truly beautiful thing with its white fur and half-appressed leaves up the flowering stem.

But the really amazing thing to me was that even though the garden was in some of the bleakest concrete high-rise sprawl of Istanbul, they had done a beautiful job of hiding it. The garden is divided by the highways into five "islands." From the main garden there is an overpass into a large picnic area which is also nicely planted. Another beautifully planned section is accessed via a drainage tunnel that runs underneath the highway. They have camouflaged this so well (see the first picture above) that you really have no idea the highway is there, and the walls of the tunnel on either side are outfitted with lighted panels explaining different aspects of plant evolution, adaptation and survival strategies.

In addition to the purely ornamental plantings, there are plantings representing a variety of habitats throughout Turkey, where local plants with specialized soil needs thrive. To the left is a beautiful scarlet Glaucium that was growing in a bed devoted to the salt plains near the Salt Lake (Tuz Gölü) in Central Anatolia.

The garden was first planted by Mr. Nihat Gökyiğit, not as a botanic garden at all, but rather with a double purpose: as a memororial to his wife Nezahat as well as an attempt to repair the land that had been degraded as a result of freeway construction. Over time it grew, and was declared a botanic garden in April 2003. It is now a member of the International Association of Botanic Gardens, and operates its own foundation.

Below is a spectacular Delphinium species native to the volcanic steppe soils of Anatolia.

Though many who visit it undoubtedly see it as simply another place to have a picnic (and in Turkey, a picnic means a grill, a gas canister to make tea and lots of meat smoke!), and a picnic area has been opened, accessed by an overpass, the hope is that people who come for the green space will also explore the rest of the garden and become more aware of Turkey's incredible plant diversity and the need for protecting it. To the right is a poster about an endangered species of Centaurea which grows in the area of Konya. And of course the plant is being grown in the garden; below are some of its unopened flower buds.

The garden has a herbarium, propagation areas and classrooms with courses and workshops on urban gardening, composting and botanical illustration. It also has an ever growing botanical library, and puts out a quarterly gardening magazine, the only one I'm aware of in Turkey which is really devoted to plants instead of "expensive crap you can buy to stick in your garden!"

In addition to the two planted islands and the picnic area, there are two more islands which are not open to the public. The reason is that although they belong to the garden, the only access to them is by dashing across the busy freeway! One of them has been allowed to develop completely naturally, as a living museum of plant life in the Istanbul area.

You can find further photographs of the garden on its home page under the "Album" header in the English section, as well as on this site.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lost and Found II / Kayıp Eşya Bölümü II

Sometimes a plant becomes loaded with so many memories that it's hard to imagine not growing it, and there is one such plant in our family.

Years ago, when I was maybe 8 years old, my grandmother gave my mother what looked like nothing more than a pot of dirt and said, "grow this." My mother asked what it was, and all she would say was "something beautiful!" Mom never did know just what it was supposed to be, but what did come up was a seedling of an evening primrose with larger and more fragrant flowers than any I have ever seen. I sent seeds to somone for identification and he told me it was Oenothera biennis. I'm not convinced though, because I've never seen an O. biennis with 1) such large flowers, 2) such fragrant flowers, and 3) such a frequently branching habit. It does sometimes get a bit tall and gangly but when it's growing well, it also branches frequently.

The plant seeded itself in the rocks on our back patio, and each evening new flowers would open like time-lapse photography, releasing a heavy scent of jasmine tea into the humid Iowa summer air. When we had summer parties, there was always a crowd of people gathered around the stand of evening primrose (which we just called "night flowers"), watching in anticipation as the buds swelled slowly, then suddenly opened completely over the course of about 20 seconds, the sticky pollen stringing between the anthers in wait of the hawk moths who would be visiting, almost immediately. It turned out their larvae also liked to eat it as much as they did tomatoes.

When I moved to Seattle, I made sure I got seed of this plant that was such a part of my childhood, and grew it in the front garden of the first house I live in. It did beautifully there, and even produced one almost-white flowering plant which unfortunately did not recur. I moved to a second house and the night flowers followed me there too. Finally I moved to the last house I'd live in Seattle, where I gardened for nine years. I planted some older seed I'd saved, but it didn't come up - evidently I hadn't kept it dry enough. I went back to my old place to find a seed pod, and the entire garden had been dug up and replaced with a vegetable garden (oh, the horror!). My mother had since moved to Arkansas and though the plant will grow there, it seems to be a favorite of the deer, and she's given up. (The local O. biennis survives though, which also makes me suspect it's something else.)

So I got desperate and searched through the lawn near where my flower garden had been, and found three tiny seedlings. They became the parents of a new overgrowth of evening primrose. This time I was sure to share seed with friends as well!

When I came to Istanbul, I had no garden, but after a year or so I was living in a place with a balcony and tried growing seed I got from a friend back in Seattle in pots. It didn't like the pots, or more likely the insubstantial fluff that is sold as "potting soil" here. I saved the rest of the seed, and when I found a place with a garden a few years later, one of the first things I did was to plant "our" night flowers! And once again, the seed was no longer viable. This time, finding seed was a bigger adventure. On my next trip to Seattle, I called all my friends, and one person did have one plant growing in the garden. About to leave town, he told me he'd leave a stem of it on the chair on the front porch. A day later I went by...there was nothing there. He later said he'd put it there but evidently a housemate had been cleaning... I couldn't find anyone who had any, so in a last-ditch attempt, I went to my old house. And there, right on the edge of a sidewalk, in among the weeds, was a stem with about 8 seedpods in it. I nearly threw my back out, I leaned over to grab it so fast!

So now I've learned that it has a name here too - "Ezan Çiçeği" - the ezan is the call to prayer, which no doubt refers to the fact that it starts opening about the time of the evening ezan. I've seen seed of it offered, but it's not quite the same as mine, so I don't grow any other varieties. It's now seeding happily around my garden, so it appears that this plant will be with me for a while to come.

Squash Flowers - Stuffed / Kabak Çiçeği Dolması

Better late than never! They ended up being with meat. I suppose I could have appended this to the previous post but that would have meant 10 minutes spent removing tags....

My filling is with chopped meat, rice, parsley, grated tomato, tomato paste, pepper paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. As my mom would say, it's "almost good enough to eat!"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Edible Weeds - Amaranth / Yenilebilir Otlar - Sirkem-Horozibiği

In the States, Amaranth is best known as the holy grain crop of the Andes, where it was the staple grain of the Incas. It was also an important ritual food; cakes of it were made with the blood of sacrifices and this led to it being forbidden by the colonial priests. It's an incredibly productive plant, the large grain varieties can produce over a pound of seed per head.

There are also several ornamental amaranths; "Love lies bleeding" is one of the best known. I'm growing one grain Amaranth - Orange Giant (which I planted way too late so it's not "giant" at all...maybe next year...), and a beautiful deep red one called "Hopi Red Dye," that has seeded itself prolifically each year since I first planted it in my last garden several years ago. It was used as a source of red dye for ceremonial foods. My apologies for the really bad quality of the picture here. The plants are quite puny as well since it's being grown in the dry flower bed, but it goes to show just what a tough plant it is!

But there are local, native Amaranths in Turkey too, and they are just as tough. None of them are showy, they are green plants with green flowers, some with red stems. They are mostly considered weeds here, and will come up in waves wherever the soil is watered regularly and lots of places where it is not.

I would probably be trying to eradicate it entirely if it weren't for the fact that it's one of my all-time-favorite summer greens. Istanbul is not such a center of wild green lore as other parts of Turkey, and many local people just pull it out without ever thinking of eating it, but in the Aegean region, "Sirkemotu" is a very well-known and popular wild green. It, along with purslane, are two of the very few wild greens that are edible throughout the summer. You can pull off the tender last few inches of stem along with whatever leaves are there, and it will immediately branch and come back improved. If it's happy, it can get up to a meter and a half tall though usually it's shorter. Mine would get that high but I tend to keep it in check, otherwise I'd have nothing else growing in the garden. It produces a lot of seed. So much that I will not consider requests for seeds of these plants...I don't want to inflict it on the southern U.S.! Don't worry, plain old Love Lies Bleeding is every bit as good to eat, and actually preferred in many Greek gardens, where it serves as both an edible and as an ornamental. In Greece, it is known as "Vlita." Vlito is also a slang term for someon who is not too bright, due to the fact that if you eat a really large amount of it, it is said to make you a bit foggy-headed. I wouldn't know, pretty much any good meal does that to me anyway and I don't consider "food coma" to be an entirely bad thing!

You can use Amaranth in almost any way you'd use spinach - raw in salads, as a filling for pita (a friend in Naxos made a really nice "vlitopita") or boiled/steamed as a potherb and drizzled with olive oil and lemon. A little crushed garlic mixed in is not bad at all. Just be sure not to overboil it; just like spinach it will become mushy if overcooked but I think overcooked Amaranth is even less appetizing.

Today I made a very Turkish dish out of it - gözleme. It's a bit of work but not all that hard. I started with a plain dough of flour and water with a little oil mixed in and a bit of salt. It should be about the same consistency as bread dough or, as they say here, "like an earlobe." Knead it for around ten minutes, then cover it and let it rest. After 15 minutes or so, divide the dough into pieces about the size of a large egg and let rest again. (You might want larger or smaller, depending on the size of your frying pan.)

By the way, if you don't feel like dealing with dough, you could also take two flour tortillas and do this as a quesadilla. But it won't be nearly as good!

Meanwhile make your filling. Chop the amaranth leaves fairly finely. Chop an onion finely and sautee it, then add it to the Amaranth (the amaranth will cook later). The rest is up to you; I mixed in a handful of crumbled beyaz peynir, Turkey's take on feta cheese, some red flake pepper and some paprika, some salt and black pepper and that's pretty much it. You could also add kashar cheese, or boiled and semi-mashed potato.

Heat a heavy frying pan. In Turkey they use a "sac" (pronounced "saj"), like a shallow convex wok placed over hot coals. But a cast iron frying pan or griddle will do just fine.

Take a piece of dough, generously flour your counter and roll it out into a long oval about 1 mm thick. Here they use a thin dowel-like rolling pin called an oklava to do this, but you can do it with a regular rolling pin as well. You'll have to be a bit more patient though. Once it's open, take a generous spoon of the filling and spread it over half of the oval of dough, then fold the uncovered side over the filling. Press the edges to seal. Add a bit of oil to your pan, and put the gözleme in, and brush some more oil over the top. Once the bottom is browned, flip it over and cook the other side. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Gözleme filled with various fillings is a common wedding dish in E. Turkey, and I saw gözleme filled with Amaranth in the weekly market in Söke near Kuşadası. By the way, Kuşadası is pronounced "KOOSH a-da-suh," not "koosaDAWsee!"

Another great way to eat Amaranth is with eggs. Fry some onion in a generous amount of olive oil, add chopped Amaranth along with pepper if you like and saute till the amaranth is soft. Add salt to taste, then pour beaten eggs over the Amaranth, cover and let cook till the eggs are cooked through. Afiyet olsun!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Kabak Çiçeği Gibi... Squash Flowers

I'm not much of an early morning person... Actually I love early morning but early morning doesn't like me. But today I did decide to rise with the chickens (well, somwehere) and get out into the garden to photograph - and then collect - one of the treats of summer: squash blossoms. I set the clock for 8:30 but for some godly unknown reason woke up at 7, and coffee in hand, stumbled out into the garden. There was no sound except birds, a dog barking somewhere and the rumble of distant thunder. As soon as I finished shooting, the first drops began to fall.

Ben hiç bir anlamla erkenci değilim. Aslında erken sabah vaktini çok seviyorum fakat o beni sevmiyor galiba... Yine de bugün yazın sunduğu güzelliklerinden bir tanesini fotoğraflayıp toplamık için tavuklarla (nerede olursa olsunlar) kalkıp bahçeye çıkmaya karar verdim. Çalar saatimi 8.30'a ayarladım fakat nedense 7'de uyandım; kahve elimde bahçeye tökezledim. Kuşlar, bir yerden havlayan bir köpek ile uzakten gelen gök uğultu sesinden başka bir ses yoktu. Bitirir bitirmez yağmurun ilk damlaları etrafıma düşmeye başladı.

I love to grow winter squash. Summer squash is nice and I'll eat it gladly; it's arguably a more useful thing to grow in terms of the sheer amount it produces. Everyone remembers their neighborhood's dreaded "zucchini lady" who was always coming around with armloads of zeppelin-size zucchini to palm off on the neighbors. That would be my mom. ;) But the fun in growing winter squash is the incredible variety of different shapes, colors and flavors. I've resolved to try at least one new one each year.

Balkabakları yetiştirmeyi çok seviyorum. Yeşil kabak da güzel, seve seve yerim, hem de ürettiği miktara göre belki biraz daha verimli bir kabak olabilir. Amerika'da her mahallenin korkulan, toplamayı unuttuğu kocaman kabakları komşulara yüklendirmeye çalışan bir "kabakçı kadını" oluyordu... yani annem... :) Fakat balkabağı yetiştirmenin zevki daha çok sonsuz şekil, renk ve tat yelpazesinden geliyor. Her yıl en azından bir yeni cins denemeye karar verdim.

The flowers are also a draw; winter or summer, there's not much else in the vegetable department that produces anything quite as voluptuous as a squash flower. In Turkey when a formerly well-behaved boy starts sowing his wild oats and going a little wild, they say "He opened like a squash flower." It's an apt description because they are there to do one thing and one thing only - sex! Not only are the flowers beautiful, but they have a delicious fragrance that reminds me of tall bearded iris. They're edible to boot, but more about that later.

Bir de çiçekleri var, ister yeşil olsun ister bal kabağı olsun, bu kadar albenisi olan bir çiçek yoktur sebze bahçesinde. Zaten "kabak çiçeği gibi açıldı" deyimi hiç tesadüf değil! Gerçekten çok iyi bir benzetmedir çünkü bunların bir fonksiyonu var - bitki seksi işte! Hem güzeldir hem de süsen aromalı çiçekleri mis gibi kokuyor. Yenir de, o konuya daha sonra değinelim.

In my old garden I grew the local one, known as Adapazarı, for the town east of here where they are grown extensively. It's a BIG squash, with deeply-ribbed gray "pumpkin" type fruits weighing up to 20 kilos. The trouble with growing such a large squash is that although they keep well, once you've cut into it it's like slaughtering a sheep. If you don't have a spacious freezer you have to make a lot of pumpkin pie fast! So now I'm preferring slightly smaller squash.

Eski bahçemde pazarlarda yaygın olan Adapazarı cinsini yetiştiriyordum. Çok lezzetli bir bal kabağıdır ancak öyle kocaman bal kabaklarının desavantajı, çok iyi saklanabilmesine rağmen bir kestin mi kurban kesmek gibi olması! Ya büyük bir derin dondurucunuz olacak ya da bütün mahalleye dağıtacaksınız. Yine de kendinizi komşularınıza beğendirmeya amaçlıyorsanız bal kabağı dağıtmak hiç kötü bir fikir değil! Fakat şimdi biraz daha küçük cinsler tercih edip, Adapazarı kabaklarını pazarcılara bırakıyorum.

This year I'm growing three - a Japanese one called Black Futsu, a old French variety called "Rouge Vif d'Etampes" and an Italian heirloom type called "Marina di Chioggia." The Kabocha went in a little late but it's catching up fast. It produces small squash with a (supposedly) chestnut-like flavor. I'll be looking forward to that! Vif D'Etampes looks to be a beautiful thing, with broad, flattened brilliant red-orange fruits. Marina di Chioggia is definitely the "oddball" of the bunch, with dark gray, warty fruits. Both have started to set fruit now.
Bu yıl ise Siyah Futsu adlı bir Japon cinsi, Fransa'nın eski ve meşhur bir cinsi olan Rouge Vif d'Etampes ile İtalya'nın bir sahil kentinden gelen Marina di Chioggia olmak üzere üç tane yetiştiriyorum. Kabocha'yı biraz geç ektim fakat yetişiyor. Ürettiği küçük boylu kabaklarının tadı kestaneye benziyormuş, onu dört gözle bekliyorum! Çarpıcı turuncu-kırmızı yayvan meyveleri ile Rouge Vif d'Etampes çok güzel bir şeye benziyor. Koyu gri "siğilli" kabakları ile Marina di Chioggia ise kuşkusuz grubun garibidir, okuduklarıma göre en lezzetlisi de.
As long as you provide a few basics, winter squash aren't too difficult to grow. They want sun, decent soil with plenty of organic matter, and a good supply of water. You'll do yourself a favor if you dig in a healthy amount of manure in the fall, supplemented by compost. This year I added "green manure" in the form of fava bean stalks; I just chopped them up into the soil below where the vines were to be planted.

Birkaç temel ihtiyacı yerine getirirseniz bal kabakları yetiştirmesi pek zor değil. Güneş, bol organik madde içeren iyi bir toprak ve bol su istiyorlar. Sonbaharda toprağa bol gübre artı compost (çürümüş yaprak, çim, mutfaktan kabuklar v.s.) katarsanız çok iyi olur. Bu yıl ise "yeşil gübre" de kattım: sonbaharda yoğun olarak ektiğim bakla gövdelerini kürkle ufalayıp kabakları ektiğim toprağın içine karıştırdım.

The common knowledge is to grow them in "hills," but I'm not really sure why. One thing squash really resent is dry soil, and hilling IMHO makes it more likely for the soil to dry out, especially when the plants are young. I just dig the soil deeply and plant at the normal level. The American Indians of the Southwest actually planted them in deeper depressions so that they would have a better water supply. If the soil is moist, the vines will root readily at the nodes, and you can help this along by mounding the soil up every 8th node or so. The large leaves of squash plants transpire quickly and this way there are more roots to help quench their thirst. In the picture at left an emerging root is visible.

Türkiye'yi bilmiyorum, Amerika'da hep "tepelere" ekilmesi öneriliyor. Nedenini pek anlamıyorum açıkçası, balkabağı kuru topraktan nefret ettiğine göre tepelere ekmek, kuruma olasılığını daha da artıyor. Ben toprağı derine kazıp, toprak seviyesinde ekiyorum. Hatta Amerika'nın güney batı bölgesindeki Kızılderililer, suları eksilmesin diye küçük çukurlara ekiyorlar. Toprak nemliyse gövdelerden de kök salar, bunu teşvik için 5-8 boğumda birini toprakla hafifçe gömebilirsiniz. Geniş yaprakları, sıcak havada bol su kaybettiği için ne kadar kökü varsa susamışlığını o kadar iyi giderebilirler. Soldaki resimde bir kök görülür.

Once the vines get to the necessary size, they'll begin to produce flowers, and lots of them. Squash have separate male and female flowers, and the male flowers are produced first. This ensures that when the female flowers come along, there will be plenty of male flowers to ensure that they get pollinated. If the flowers don't get pollinated, you get no fruit. We have a beehive in the garden so the deed was done long before I ever got out there, but if you have a dearth of bees in your area, you can help them along by pollinating them yourself. You'll have to get up early in the morning though; as soon as the heat sets in the flowers shrivel and close.

Bitkiler yeterli büyüyünce çiçekler de açmaya başlar, hem de çok. Kabakların erkek ve dişi çiçekleri ayrıdır, ilk çıkanların hepsi erkek oluyor. Bu durum, dişi çiçekler gelince tozlaşmayı yerine getirebilecek kadar erkek çiçekleri olmasını sağlıyor. Çiçekler tozlaşılmazsa kabak da olmaz. Bizim bahçemizde bir arı kovanı olduğu için ben çıkmadan çok önce iş işten geçiyor fakat büyük şehirlerde arı eksikliği ciddi bir problem olabiliyor. Durum öyleyse tozlaşmayı siz de yapabilirsiniz. Yetişmek için erkenci olmanız gerekecek ama; sıcaklık basar basmaz çiçekler solup kapanıyor.

How to sex a squash flower?

Kabak çiçeğinin cinsiyeti nasıl tespit edilir?

The male flowers, which you'll see first, are fairly simple affairs and borne on tall thin stems. The flower in the photo to the right is male. Notice how it's held high up (though they aren't always above the leaves), and the base of the flower is fairly simple.

İlk önce göreceğiniz erkek çiçekler oldukça sade olup, yüksek gövdelerde yer alıyor. Sağdaki çiçek erkektir. Çiçeğin dibi sade, her zaman öyle olmasa da gövdesi onu yaprakların üstüne yükseltmiş.

Inside is a single anther (actually a group of them but they appear as a single unit). The produce a lot of pollen, enough to generously cover the bees that are irresistably drawn to them.
Çiçeğin içinde tek bir ercik başı var. Aslında 5 tane var fakat birleşmiş haliyle tek gibi görünyor. Cazibesine karşı koyamayan arıları tatmin etmek için çok polen üretiyorlar!

The female flowers, which start to appear a bit later, are always in the minority. They are borne close to the stem, and are atop a round swelling - the ovary - which will grow into a squash if the flower is pollinated. Below are newly developing female flowers of Marina di Chioggia and Rouge Vif d'Etampes side by side for comparison.

Biraz daha sonra çıkmaya başlayan dişi çiçekleri ise her zaman daha az oluyor. Ana gövdenin çok yakınında açıp, tozlaşma gerçekleşirse kabak olacak yuvarlak bir tohumluğun üstünde yer alıyor. Aşağıdaki fotoğrafta kıyaslayabilmeniz için Marina di Chioggia ile Rouge Vif d'Etampes'ın yeni gelişen dişi çiçekleri görünüyor.

They grow fast, and a few days later they're open and ready for business! Just hush up about those weeds...

Çiçekler hızlı büyüyor, birkaç gün sonra ise açık ile işe hazır olacaklar! Otlara gelince...yorumlar istemiyorum!

Their insides are also different. On the left is a male flower - notice the shower of pollen on the bee inside. On the right is a female flower; to get to the nectar produced in the base, she has to squeeze in between the three-lobed pistil and the walls of the flower, ensuring that the load of pollen on her back will be rubbed off.

İçleri de farklı tabii. Sol taraftaki erkek çiçeğidir, içindeki arıyı kaplayan poleni farkedin. Sağdaki ise dişidir; tam dibinde üretilen nektara ulaşmak için çiçeğin duvarları ile 3 kısımlı dişilik organının arasında sıkışarak sırtına yapışmış olan polen yükünün dişilik organına yapışmasını sağlanır.



If pollination is successful you'll know it within a couple days, because the stem whill thicken and the ovary will begin to grow at an astonishing rate. Here are flowers just two days after pollination; Rouge Vif d'Etampes is almost golf ball size already.

Tozlaşma başarılı olarak gerçekleştirilirse bir iki gün içinde gövdenin kalınlaşması, tohumluğun şaşırtıcı bir hızla büyümesinden belli olur. Yukarıdaki fotoğraf, çiçeklerin tozlaşmadan sadece iki gün sonraki durumunu gösteriyor; Rouge Vif d'Etampes'ınki bir golf topunun boyuna büyümüş bile.

Aborted Flowers

Düşen Çiçekler

Often in my experience the first one or two female flowers abort without opening. I'm not sure why, but if they continue to abort it may be that the weather has gotten too hot, or your plants aren't getting enough water. I have fairly well-drained soil, and give them a good soaking each morning. If your female flowers make it to blooming size and then abort a day or two later, they were most likely not pollinated, or under-pollinated and the plant "decided" that it was not worth it to expend the energy to produce a big honking squash for the sake of a few seeds.

Genelde bende ilk çıkan dişi çiçekler nedense açılmadan kuruyup düşüyorlar. Fakat sürekli düşüyorlarsa sebep, havanın fazla sıcak olduğu veya susuzluk olabilir. Benim toprağım fazla yağlı değil, her sabah iyice suluyorum. (Burada akşam suluyorlar genelde fakat gecede yapraklarda kalan su damlaları, mantar sorunlarına yol açabilir.) Eğer dişi çiçekler açılıp sonra dökülüyorsa, büyük ihtimalle ya hiç tozlaşılmamış ya yetersizce tozlaşılmış. Bu takdirde bitki, bir avuç tohum için kocaman bir kabak üretmenin faydasız olduğunu "karar" veriyor.

Hand Pollination to Maintain a Variety

Bir Cinsi Korumak İçin Elle Tozlaşmak

If you want to collect seed from an heirloom variety for next year and are growing more than one variety of squash, you'll want to hand pollinate. Start by selecting a female flower and bagging it with some cheesecloth or gauze to keep the bees out, or you may get a cross with the others you are growing. When the female flower opens, take a male flower (preferably from a different plant of the same variety), peel off the petals leaving only the stamen in the center, rub the stamen all over the pistil of the female flower, and replace the cheesecloth. You can do the same thing with a small paintbrush. Once you're sure that you've gotten pollination and the flower fades, you can remove the cheesecloth. Be sure and mark your fruit to remind you which one it is.

Eğer birden fazla cins yetiştirirken tohumlarını gelecek yıl için saklamak istediğiniz beğendiğiniz bir cins varsa, melezlememelerinden emin olmak için elle tozlaşmanız gerekecek. İlk önce gelişen bir dişi çiçek seçip, arıların girişini engellemek için bir parça tülbentle hafifçe sarayın. Çiçek açılınca aynı cinsten fakat tercihen başka bir bitkiden bir erkek çiçeği koparıp, sarı yapraklarını tamamen sökün. Geri kalan ercik başını dişi çiçeğin dişilik organına sürünüz. Sonra tülbendi bir daha yerine bağlayıp bekleyin. Tozlaşma işini küçük bir fırça ile yapabilirsniz. Tozlaşmanın gerçekleştiği, çiçein solduğundan sonra tülbendi alabilirsiniz. Hangi kabak asıl tohumunu içerdiğini hatırlamak için mutlaka etiketleyin!

Eating Them

In villages on the island of Mytilene in Greece, kids coming from the garden with big boquets of squash flowers was a common sight. Their mothers would stuff them in exactly the same way as peppers or grape leaves; you can use your favorite mixture but I think if you do it without meat the flavor of the squash flowers will come through better.

You can also fry them, either dipping them in batter or dredging them in egg then flour before they hit the oil.

Another way I found, from a YouTube comment no less, is to make a quesadilla out of them. Put a tortilla in a hot pan, sprinkle on grated cheese, a bit of hot sauce if you like, arrange the squash flowers over the cheese, then cover with a second tortilla, and cook, turning occasionally, until the inside is cooked and the tortillas are lightly toasted. I was going to take a picture but Blogspot adds endless "div" tags every time a photo is added, and I worked so long to get the spaces right!

Nasil Yenir?

Yunanistan'daki Midilli Adasının köylerinde bahçelerde gelen, ellerinde kabak çiçeği demetleri tutan çocuklara sık sık rastgeliyordum. Anneleri tıpkı yaprak sarması veya biber dolması gibi yapıyordu. Zaten Türkiye'de de yapılır, özellikle Ege bölgesinde. Bence çiçeğin tadını daha güzel ortaya çıkardığı için zeytinyağlısı daha lezzetli.
Ayrıca güzel bir meze için ya hamura, ya da ilk önce yumurtaya sonra una batırıp kızartılır.

YouTube'da bırakılan bir yorumdan öğrendiğim bir yöntem daha, "quesadilla"sını yapmaktır. Artık her yerde satılan tortilla ekmeğinden bir tanesini hiç yağ katmadan kızgın bir tavaya yerleştirin, sonra üzerine rende peyir ve isteğe göre acı sos serpin. Sonra peynirin üzerine kabak çiçeklerini dizip, ikinci tortilla ile kapatın. Tavada birkaç kez çevirerek, içi pişmiş, dışı biraz çıtır hale gelinceye kadar pişirin. Herhalde gözlemesi de çok güzel olurdu.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Catching Up!

I've been lazy just lately, not only because I've been distracted by politics and duties, but also just because it's been damn hot, and I've felt more like sitting around drinking cold things than doing garden stuff!

In Seattle, June and early July were the real peak times in my garden. Here it's earlier, and now that things are getting good and hot; the ephemerals are done, and I'm mostly keeping busy just trying to keep up with watering.

In the flower garden, the Lavatera I call "ex-Barnsley" is going great guns, and is considerably taller than I am. I say "ex" Barnsley because I bought Lavatera "Barnsley" years ago in my Seattle garden and for two or three years it produced the pale pink, dark-centered flowers. But sometimes this variety reverts back to it's original form, a much more uniform pink. I got my start early in the spring and didn't know it had reverted until later, but no matter, I still like it even if I probably would never have actually bought it. The pink flowers keep coming for a weeks and weeks, standing out against the small dark green leaves. It's quite drought-tolerant to boot.

The sweet peas are on their last legs now. This is the first year I've ever been really successful with them and it was worth the extra effort. I grew two old varieties: Cupani, a bicolor pink that was among the first to be grown in Europe, and Matucana, reputed to be the closest to the original species. Both are known for their exceptional fragrance. They certainly lived up to the hype; I brought a few flowers of "Matucana" (L), and they soon overwhelmed me on the table where I was working, so they went across the room! Now there is one forlorn pink flower left, and lots of seed pods. The stink bug can't be getting much of a meal from the almost-dry pods, so he must just be here for the exposure.

The big old magnolia tree is in full bloom, and though it's a bit scruffy and the old yellowing blooms still hang on, but a newly-opened magnolia is a beautiful thing to behold.

Down below, an enormous old canna is in full bloom. I used to hate cannas. With their banana-like foliage, they just seemed not to fit anywhere in Iowa where I grew up. The real problem was what they were planted with, or not planted with. Ours is a variety of the "indian shot" canna, named for its rock-hard seeds. It's not as flamboyantly showy as some of the hybrids are, I like it. They are incredibly easy to propagate from seed, you need to scarify them (I use a steak knife to get past the hard black seed coat) and soak them in water overnight. Once they sprout they develop very quickly. I started a few this spring, and out of eight, one came up with red leaves so it was a keeper.

The other thing in full bloom is the sunflowers. They have an interesting personality, there's somethign old-fashioned about them, and they always make me think of a bunch of old pioneer women standing around gossiping. I don't remember what the variety was, but it's a mixture of various colors with branching stems. There were supposed to be pinks and whites in there but mine all range through yellows to reddish browns. The other thing they don't do is face the sun; they look any way they feel like. I didn't plant a single one on purpose; they are all volunteers from the ones I grew last year.

Just like last year, I had a crowd of five-foot ones, and a single very tall one (as in about 8 feet) with a very dark center and smaller petals in relation to its large center. It has a slightly different habit than the others as well; while the shorter ones tend to set new buds close together, this one makes more of a "boquet" of flowers each on its individual long stem.

It's really a little late for Nigella but for some reason mine got off to a late start. So they are blooming all over the place and I'm humoring them with water, but the tallest one is a foot or so tall. Next year they'll volunteer on their own time.

The Daturas are some of my favorite night-bloomers. Not sure which one this is, either metel or wrightii. The plant is perennial here, coming back from the roots each spring. The enormous white flowers open just before dusk, and when several open at once, the fragrance fills the entire garden.

Last on today's list is Amaranth "Hopi Red Dye," which I've been growing for several years now. I abuse it, otherwise it would a lot larger. When it's happy, it can get up to five feet tall, but when they grow in the flower garden with mostly drought-tolerant plants, they rarely get over two feet tall, and grow in nice mid-sized clumps. Like most amaranths the leaves are edible, though I prefer the local wild green one for eating, and will talk about them in the next post.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On a Non-Gardening Subject

It's been a while since I've added anything to my blog; the reason is that though my garden has not gone anywhere, my thoughts have been elsewhere, namely in our neighbor to the east, Iran. I've had good friends from and in Iran ever since the 70s, witnessed how they have been affected by an oppressive government, a revolution, a war, more oppression, renewed hope and bitter disappointment. It has been with a mixture of fascination, horror and hope that I've followed recent events there. In this spirit I share this open letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, and hope you will consider signing it as well.

To: To the people of the world!

Open letter to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations


To the leaders of the Free World

Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Noble Ladies and Gentlemen; heads of the democratically elected governments of the world,

Over the past few days, following the fraudulent Iranian presidential “elections”, the entire world has been witnessing the uprising of the freedom loving people of Iran against deception, injustice and tyranny of the rulers of the Islamic Republic.

The Iranian people have been demonstrating their outrage against their repressive rulers by the millions and in epic levels throughout Iran. After 30 years of oppressive and despotic rule by the clerics, the great and heroic people of Iran are now determined not to allow their intelligence to be insulted any longer and have decided that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and are unequivocally calling for an end to the tyrant rule of the clerics in Iran. The Islamic rulers and the clergy not only have no respect for the will of the Iranian people, but have demonstrated their truly fascist essence by resorting to the most barbaric and inhumane crack downs on people’s peaceful demonstrations.

In their quest for achieving their goal, which is for a free, democratic and secular Iran, the Iranian people are being confronted by the most brutal and barbaric attacks by the state police, security forces and armed thugs organised by Ahmadinejad’s government. Thousands of protestors have been brutally assaulted and beaten up and many have been killed in the most vulgar manners during the peaceful rallies in Tehran and other major cities.

There are hundreds of pictorial evidences recorded on still and movie cameras showing the barbaric behaviours of the Islamic Republic’s security forces, which in time shall be presented to the International Courts of Law as hard evidence in order to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. The ultimate responsibility of these crimes will be put upon the rulers of the regime, in particular, Mr. Khamenei himself; the so called “Supreme Leader”!

We, the undersigned, draw your immediate attention to the following:

• Any State with such measures of brutality and savagery against its own people can not possibly be tolerated and hence be worthy of recognition by the world community.

• At these critical moments, the Iranian people need the support of the world community who have been watching the ongoing events in Iran with dismay.

• The free and democratic nations can not possibly tolerate such barbaric behaviours of a repressive state against the will its own people.

• The Islamic Republic of Iran has been and continues to be in gross and intolerable violation of all international conventions to which they are party to and have been signatory to adhere to.

• After the recent events in Iran, and the barbaric response of the Islamic government to the protestors in the aftermath of the rigged “elections”, the world community can not possibly consider the Islamic Republic’s government as the true and legitimate representative of the great Iranian nation.

• We demand the United Nations to expel the Islamic Republic of Iran from the United Nations and void its membership in protest for its blatant violation of human rights in Iran. There are hundreds of undeniable pictures and video clips to substantiate this fact.

• Equally well, we ask all the Free States and governments of the world to expel the Islamic Republic’s so called “Diplomats” from their countries and to close down its embassies in their respective countries to show their denunciation of Islamic Republic’s inhumane behaviour against its people and to support the legitimate demands of the freedom seeking people of Iran.

We expect the free world community to stand beside the Iranian people during these critical times and to show their support for their freedom seeking struggle during these decisive moments.


The Undersigned

To sign the petition, click here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lost and Found! / Kayıp Eşya Bölümü

Finally, a post on something that smells good!

Fragrance is one of the most important elements to me in the garden. I grow plants based on lots of merits - color, form (I don't much like double flowers), leaf form and habit, but I'm always a sucker for something that smells good!

In my Seattle garden, one of my favorite plants for fragrance was Night-Scented Stocks (Matthiola bicornis). I'd read of this plant several times and thought "that sounds interesting, I ought to try it some time," but for years never did. When I finally got around to it and the first few flowers opened and filled the garden with a sweet-coconutty fragrance, I decided I'd never be without it again. The only downside is that while the plant is not outright ugly, it's insubstantial and straggly, and the flowers droop during the day. But I really should get some more seed of it nontheless.

Several years ago I was visiting my friend Souzana on the island of Naxos in Greece, and we took a trip up to the northern coast. On a bank by the sea there was a huge stand of a Matthiola with substantial light purple flowers atop robust plants with heavily wavy gray leaves. There was not even a trace of scent, but I suspected they might be night fragrant, and asked a local girl who was collecting them if they smelled at night. "Nope" she said. I didn't believe her, so I collected as many of the matured seed pods as I could find, and we also got a boquet of the flowers for good measure.

As soon as it got dark, they poured out a sweet, candy-like fragrance that literally filled the room. I got to work splitting the long seed pods and scraping the seed out onto a sheet of paper, collecting the seeds in a shot glass. It was slow work and I was the last to bed.

In the morning I got up and went into the kitchen. The shot glass was gone. Souzana had been tidying up and unaware of the treasure the glass held, she had dumped the seeds out. Aaaaaaaarrgh! There was no chance of going up and collecting more; we didn't have a car and there was no public transport.

However there was some good news - Souzana had not dumped the seeds into the garbage, but into the container where she put all the peels, cores and old leaves destined for her compost pile.

The next spring, the seeds came up all over her vegetable garden, and she recognized them and let several plants grow, then sent me seed from those. I suspect that they may have hybridized a bit with other stocks there, but they have the same night-only fragrance and grow beautifully in Istanbul. Though they don't fill the air quite like the homely little night stocks did, the remain an important component in the general fragrance of my evening garden.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pheeew! / Öğğğğğk!

Well, yesterday it finally did its thing. I took lots of photographs, and the smell was strong enough that I ended up with a headache. I read once of someone living in a very cold climate and was growing it as a houseplant (haha) had one pop off inside the house. I can't even imagine it.

Dün olacak nihayet oldu. Çok sayıda fotoğraf çektim, kokusundan başım ağrımaya başladı. Birkaç yıl önce, çok soğuk bir iklimde yaşadığı için salon bitkisi olarak yetiştiren birinin hikaysini okudum...çiçek evin içinde açmış. Düşünemiyorum bile, bu göz yaşartıcı bir kokudur gerçekten.

It's been fully open for two days now; yesterday was bad but it seems it was just revving up, because today it's completely disgusting and the pollen hasn't even dropped yet. The flies are having a party. Here's a short film of the activity.

İki gündür apaçık, dün kötü kokuyordu fakat sanki sadece prova yapıyormuş gibime geliyor çünkü bugün kendini aştı. Umarım komşular şikayet etmez. Sinekler şölen yapıyor resmen. Buyrun bir kısa film:

Today there was a new twist: When I went out, it was making a sound, almost as if something was boiling. I looked in and it was "boiling" - with little carrion beetles. They probably came at night, and have become trapped in the flower; the sound comes when they scrabble up the slippery sides of the inflorescence, then fall back down into the cup. In the picture below you can see them, along with the many stigmas of the individual female flowers. This is the only day that the flower can be pollinated; the pollen would have come on the beetles or flies from another flower in its male stage. Tomorrow, the pistils will no longer be receptive, but the anthers (which appear in the film as a white band) will open and shower the beetles with pollen. Then the walls will cease to be slippery and they will be able to emerge, to pollinate another flower. But of course there won't be one.

Bugün yeni bir gelişme de vardı: Bugün dışarıya çıktığımda hemen hemen birşey kaynıyormuşcaçına bir ses çıkıyordu çiçekten. İçeriye baktım ki sahiden kaynıyordu - küçük leş böcekleriyle. Her halde gece gelmişler. Şimdi çiçeğin içinde yakalanmış, ses ise, kaygan yanlarını tırmanlamaya çalışıp bazına tekrar düştüklerinde geliyor. Aşağıdaki resimde sayısız dişi çiçeklerinin tek pistilleri görülebilir. Sadece bugün tozlaşılabilirdi; pollen, başka bir çiçekten çıkan böcek veya sineklerde gelecekti. Yarın pistiller artık pollen kabul edemeyecek, üst fotoğrafta beyaz bir şerit olarak görünün erkek çiçekler ise polenlerini böceklerin üstüne bırakacak. Ondan sonra çiçeğin duvarları kayganlığını kaybedecek, böcekler çıkıp başka bir çiçeğe gidip tozlaşabilecek. Nafile tabi, bu tür Asya'da yetişiyor!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

At last! Nihayet!

So, you all know now to say "at last" in Turkish now. :) The spathe is now starting to flare nicely, and there is a new fly visiting every few minutes, confused. It must be like walking in to an empty room filled with a wonderful bakery smell.

Botanik yanısıra "nihayet" sözcüğünün İngilizcesini de öğrenmiş oldunuz işte. :) Güzel açılmaya başladı artık, birkaç dakikada bir yeni bir sinek gelip, şaşırıyor. Onlar için, güzel bir fırın kokusuyla dolu fakat boş bir odaya girmek gibiymiş her halde.

There are other things happening in the garden as well; some of them even small good but this one doesn't: A nice orange-red honeysuckle is in bloom, only a few this year as it was only planted this spring, but it's a nice hint of things to come. The red/orange honesuckles are all American natives as far as I know, and all are scentless. The reason is that they are not pollinated by bees, which are attracted by scents, but by hummingbirds. Wherever you find naturally-occurring red honeyuckles, you will find hummingbirds as well.

Sonuçta bahçede başka gelişmeler de var, hatta bazıları hoş kokulu bile. Fakat bu değil. Turuncu/kırmızı renkli bir hanımeli de açmış, bu ilkbaharda ekildiği için az açtı fakat gelecek yılların bir önizlemesi hiç olmasa. Bildiğim kadarıyla bütün kırmızı hanımelleri Amerika'dan geliyor ve hepsi kokusuz. Neden mi? Bu çiçekler, kokulardan çekilen arılardan değil, sadece Kuzey ve Güney Amerika'da bulunan arıkuşlarından tozlaşılıyor. Yani bu hanımellerinin doğal olarak yetiştiği bölgelerde mutlaka arıkuşları da bulunur.

Another favorite of mine just opened spectacularly today - the thuggish but beautiful Passiflora caerulea or blue passionflower. The scent of the flowers on their first day is intoxicating and it always leaves me thinking, "there must be a way to get this scent into a drink." I even tried steeping some once but it didn't work... The second day they are scentless. If you want to cut one to float in a bowl, look at the pistils first. If they are pointing down as in these flowers, you will enjoy it for 2 days. The second day, as the anthers open, the pistils fold up to avoid self-pollination. If you cut t at this stage, it will be closed by afternoon.

Çok sevdiğim bir başka çiçek de bugün gösterişli bir açılış yaptı - arsız fakat güzel Passiflora caerulea, yani Çarkıfelek. İlk açtığı günde çiçeklerin kokusu büyüleyici olup, hep "keşke bu kokuyu bir içeceğe aktarmak için bir yöntem olsa" diye düşündürüyor beni... Hatta demlemeyi denedim fakat nafile. İkinci günde kokusu yok. Evde bir tasta yüzdirmek için kesmeyi düşünüyorsanız, birinci günde kesin. Kokusu yanı sıra, üç pistilleri (dişilik organları) fotoğraftaki gibi aşağıya doğru yönelmişse yeni açmış demektir. İkinci günde ise ercik başları polenlerini bırakırken pistiller, aynı çiçekten polen almamak için yukarıya katlanıyorlar. Bu halde keserseniz, akşama kadar bile açık kalmaz.